What is the draft? And can it ever be reinstated? Here's what to know

·3 min read
The Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces, the military reserve of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, take part in a military drill outside Kyiv on February 19, 2022.

When Russia launched a military invasion into Ukraine early Thursday, some, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, drew comparisons with Germany's invasion into neighboring countries during the Nazi era of World War II.

"Russia treacherously attacked our state in the morning, as Nazi Germany did in 2#WW years. As of today, our countries are on different sides of world history," Zelenskyy tweeted Thursday.

Former prime minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Honcharuk said Russia's actions could even spark another world war.

“It could be the start of a third world war. We should realize it, because Putin will not stop," Honcharuk said.

Amid talk of a wider war, as well as news that Zelenskyy has called up reservists and those liable for service for a full military mobilization, questions about the U.S. draft process have emerged. Could the government ever reinstate the draft? Who can be drafted and why? Here's what to know.

What is the purpose of the draft?

The draft is the mandatory enrollment of individuals of a certain age and gender into the armed forces to fill vacancies that could not be filled by volunteers.

Drafting has occurred during times of conflict and in peacetime, though the first peacetime draft was not enacted until 1940 amid rising international hostilities leading up to World War II, according to the Selective Service System.

The draft ensured the military was able to quickly fill manpower needs during wartime after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor

More: Reports: Ukraine bans all male citizens ages 18 to 60 from leaving the country

More: 1969 Vietnam War Draft Lottery: How the draft worked.

Can the US still institute a draft?

Draft induction authority expired in 1973. It would take an act of Congress to reinstate the draft. The president would then be authorized to induct civilians through the Selective Service Administration into the armed forces under an amendment to the Military Selective Service Act.

Registration with the Selective Service is considered crucial to national security strategy. Mandatory registration resumed in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter.

What happens if you get drafted?

If Congress were to reinstate the draft, the Selective Service would activate and order all personnel to report for duty to open Area Offices. A public, televised and nationally streamed National Draft Lottery to establish the order by year of birth in which registrants receive directives to report for induction would follow.

Inductees are given a physical, mental and moral evaluation at a local Military Entrance Processing Station to determine which registrants are eligible for service and which are sent home. Under Defense Department requirements, the first inductees are delivered to the military within 193 days of draft authorization.

Registrants can claim postponement, deferment or exemption upon receiving an induction notice. Once claims are processed by Local and Appeal Boards, they may be classified as conscientious objectors, dependency hardships, or ministerial and ministerial student deferments.

Can women be drafted?

Only "male persons" are authorized to register for the draft under the Military Selective Service Act.

Congress would have to pass legislation amending the act to extend registration to women. Women make up close to 17% of the armed forces, up from about 2% in 1973.

What ages would be drafted?

Male U.S. citizens and immigrants ages 18-25 are required to register with the Selective Service. A male immigrant within that age range must register within 30 days of arriving to the U.S. Individuals within either category must register within 30 days after their 18th birthday.

About 17 million draft-eligible men are on file with the Selective Service System.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Reach out to Chelsey Cox on Twitter at @therealco.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Will the U.S. reinstate the draft Russia Ukraine invasion